Request an Appointment

What are variable pitched treads and are they right for your vehicle?

Posted: Thursday, September 30th 2010

Reduce tire noiseTechnology plays a key role in developing and advancing the capabilities of tires.  Tire manufacturers can change the width, height, and tread on a tire to make the ride safer, smoother, quieter, or faster.  Although some tires are designed with uniform tread patterns, others have tread patterns that vary. explains that variable integrated pitch refers to “variations in angles and sizes of a tire’s tread elements that reduce ride noise levels.” Variable pitched treads are designed using a computer program and the goal is to reduce noise; in many cases, variable pitched treads may also make the ride smoother and increase the comfort level for the driver and passengers.

Reducing noise is a worthy goal for two reasons.  The first is internal noise: very loud tires can create an additional distraction for the driver.  In an age when many drivers attempt to drive while multitasking (searching for music, eating, using mobile devices, etc.), it’s worthwhile to try to reduce distractions as much as possible.  Unnecessary background noise can be a nuisance by making basic conversation with another passenger strenuous.  We’ve probably all been in vehicles where it’s nearly impossible to hear the person you’re sitting next to.

The second reason is external noise.  An article in The Daily Reporter, a newspaper based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, cited an experiment which took place in Duluth, Minnesota, involving a new type of road-surfacing material which aims to reduce tire noise.  The road is “designed to make tires hum rather than squeal” by leveraging “an unusual concrete grinding process.”  According to the article, this location was chosen for the testing because of concerns about freeway noise levels. Although this experiment examines the issue of reducing tire noise from a different perspective, it highlights the attention and effort devoted to reducing noise from automobile tires.

Not surprisingly, reducing tire noise by varying tread pitch is a complicated process.  It is not enough to simply make each tread pitch unique so tire manufacturers continue to experiment to determine the exact formula of variable pitched treads that will lead to the greatest reduction in tire noise.  A paper from the 13th international conference on Intelligent Engineering Systems, sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), was titled Tread profile optimization for tires with multiple pitch tracks.  Noting that there are numerous permutations for pitch patterns, the paper noted the goal is to reach “a valid pitch sequence with optimal noise characteristics.”  The problem lies in the fact that no one has yet been able to figure out the pitch sequence that will yield these optimal noise characteristics.  With technology, engineering premises, mathematical principles, and other relevant data, tire manufacturers and others involved in tire manufacturing continue to pursue that optimal pitch sequence.

Despite the continued pursuit of the optimal formula to achieve the greatest reduction in tire noise, tire manufacturers are able to use existing formulas to reduce tire noise as much as possible.  Certain factors must be present, including “having a plurality of base pitches placed about the circumference of the tire in at least one circumferential section.”  This knowledge, combined with continued research and constantly-evolving technology, will enable tire manufacturers to continue working toward that elusive formula that will maximize noise reduction.

Are tires with variable pitch treads right for you? These types of tires can be a good option if you do a lot of highway driving.  Since noise can be a major consideration, any technology that can reduce tire volume can be beneficial.  This is particularly true if you conduct business in your vehicle or use the phone (hands-free of course) during these long drives.  Minimizing background noise can be a tremendous advantage.  Another effective use of this technology is for your family.  If you often take trips with your family or simply transport children to practice and events, you may want to minimize noise – and any unnecessary distractions.

The professionals at Dunn Tire can help you select the most appropriate tires for your vehicle which will minimize noise pollution.  Stop by one of our convenient locations today for more information.